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Steinberg Elected Unity President

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Friday, September 27, 2013

NLGJA Delegate Wins, 6-4, as NAHJ Sits Out Vote

Lee Thornton, Pioneer Journalist, Professor, Dies at 71

Desiree Dancy, N.Y. Times Co. Diversity Officer, Resigns

Where's Explanation of Why We Don't All Look the Same?

"Digital Divide" Greater Between Whites, Hispanics

For Correspondents, Kenya Massacre Was Close to Home

NAJA Calls for Newsroom Discussion of Team Names

Short Takes

David Steinberg, then president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, is interviewed in Las Vegas at the 2012 Unity convention. (Credit: (video)

NLGJA Delegate Wins, 6-4, as NAHJ Sits Out Vote

David Steinberg, a former president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, has been elected president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, the coalition announced Friday. Steinberg, who becomes the first white president of the former Unity: Journalists of Color, defeated Janet Cho of the Asian American Journalists Association.

The vote was 6 to 4, according to Mary Hudetz, president of the Native American Journalists Association and nominations chair for the election. One person did not vote in time, and Acting President Doris Truong was not eligible to vote except in case of a tie, Hudetz said.

Hudetz would not report who voted which way, saying the board members did not understand that their individual votes would be publicized.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which had four votes, did not vote in the election, which was held among a board that includes representatives of NAHJ, AAJA, the Native American Journalists Association and NLGJA. But Hugo Balta, president of NAHJ, had supported Cho.

Balta has cited lack of transparency as one of NAHJ's complaints. He said the four NAHJ members on the Unity board "will not participate in any meeting of Unity until the NAHJ board definitely decides" NAHJ's role in the coalition.

Balta has said the structure of Unity was unfair in that the larger Unity groups have the same number of votes as the smaller ones. With 1,279 members at the end of August, NAHJ is the second-largest Unity partner, behind the Asian American journalists group, which had 1,597 that month.

Balta said his efforts to change the structure have gotten nowhere. He said that two years after the National Association of Black Journalists left the coalition over the same reasons of finances, governance, transparency and mission that have made NAHJ unhappy, "there hasn't been a definitive change."

Cho had contended that her approach was geared toward returning NABJ to the coalition, a goal Unity has said it wants. She noted that she had volunteered for the Unity Reunification Task Force that sought to bring NABJ back, voted against dropping "Journalists of Color" from Unity's name and chaired Unity's Name Task Force to ask alliance member journalists what UNITY should call itself. She is also a member of NABJ and attended its Orlando convention in August. NABJ counted 2,986 members in July.

In a news release Friday from Unity, Steinberg said, "I appreciate the support of the UNITY board and plan to announce, as early as next week, specific proposals to reform UNITY to make it more efficient, cost effective, and responsive to its alliance members and partners." NLGJA joined Unity only two years ago, invited to do so after NABJ pulled out.

The release also quoted other Unity board members:

" 'I'm confident that David's experience working across a broad base of stakeholders will make UNITY even stronger and will strengthen the journalism industry as a whole,' said Unity Vice President Doris Truong, who has been the organization's acting president since late April. 'It was encouraging to see a contested race because that shows the passion and commitment of the candidates to UNITY's mission.'

"AAJA President Paul Cheung said: 'I am looking forward to working with David on how best to grow and shape UNITY's future. This is the time for us to step up, roll up our sleeves and get down to work!'

"Mary Hudetz, president of NAJA, was the nominations chair for the election. Janet Cho, a business reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was also a candidate for the presidency.

" 'This election presented a difficult choice between two very qualified candidates ready to serve and lead UNITY as it heads in a new direction,' Hudetz said. 'I congratulate David and look forward to working with him in the coming year.'

"Cho, a former AAJA vice president for print, also congratulated Steinberg as he prepares to lead the coalition of journalism associations.

" 'Congratulations to David, and thank you to the board members who voted,' Cho said. 'The next few months will be critical ones for reassuring our alliance group members and others in the media industry that UNITY remains relevant and necessary. David will need all of our collective support.' "

"Steinberg, a two-term NLGJA president, is the copy desk chief/stylebook editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. He has served as UNITY’s treasurer since Jan. 1. . . ."

Lee Thornton, Pioneer Journalist, Professor, Dies at 71

Lee Thornton Lee Thornton, a trailblazing and award-winning journalist, news producer and educator, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer, the University of Maryland reported. She was 71.

"Dr. Thornton served as the inaugural Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism and also served as interim dean for a year following the resignation [of] Tom Kunkel. During the 2012-13 school year, she also served as the ombudsperson for the graduate school," Dean Lucy Dalglish of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism wrote to colleagues.

The university noted when Thornton was appointed to an earlier position that she was a former CBS News correspondent, was "the first African American female regularly assigned to the White House beat by one of the then three broadcast news networks, and she was the first African American host of National Public Radio's popular show, All Things Considered."

"All Things Considered" co-host Robert Siegel delivered a tribute to Thornton on Friday's edition.

The university also recalled that "While on the faculty at Howard University (before coming to UM in 1997), Dr. Thornton produced and moderated a Channel 32 program called Pro and Con, which dealt directly with diversity issues and featured HU faculty. In 1991, CNN named her senior producer of Both Sides with Jesse Jackson. That program was CNN's earliest attempt to reach a large minority audience, and it paved the way for many such programs that have followed. In addition, she has lectured widely on women and minorities in the media. . . ."

Dalglish said in a tribute issued by the university, "Lee Thornton was a journalism and communications scholar. She was a broadcast journalist. She excelled at both. And she could move back and forth in those fields seamlessly and be spectacularly good at both things.”

" 'Dr. T' brought her years of experience working for local and Network TV — at CBS, CNN and NPR — to Merrill College in 1997 and quickly became known for her 'thorough yet caring' style of teaching. She taught television news reporting and production and documentary filmmaking as well as graduate courses. She overhauled and expanded the student news programs from ten minutes to 30 minutes. Over the years, her Merrill students won in excess of 80 national and regional awards and citations. . . . "

Born Emerita Lee Thornton in Leesburg, Va., the future broadcaster earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern in 1973 and began her journalism career the next year at CBS.

She summarized her career this way in a 2007 interview reported in "Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012" by Stephen Hess:

"I started teaching broadcast journalism at Howard in 1983 and ended up teaching there for 14 years, eight of which were [as an] adjunct. Then I went on tenure track at the associate professor level. The University of Maryland came looking for me to apply for the Richard Eaton Chair in Broadcast News, and I won out over a lot of competition. I've been there 10 years. From Howard and Maryland, my students are absolutely everywhere. If I have a legacy, they are it. That's as good as it gets for a career. It's amazing . . . "

Desiree Dancy, N.Y. Times Co. Diversity Officer, Resigns

Desiree Dancy, vice president of diversity and inclusion for the New York Times Desiree Dancy, chief diversity officer and vice president for corporate human resources at the New York Times Co., is leaving the organization.

She told Journal-isms, "The Times has reduced its business units and has refocused its operation to a smaller, and more singularly directed company," changing the nature of her job.

Dancy joined the Times Co. in 2006 as its vice president, diversity and inclusion after an internal committee at the Times had recommended appointment of a senior vice president whose primary responsibilities would be to oversee diversity efforts. The panel warned management in a confidential report that "The Times is a newspaper at risk. If it fails to diversify its work force and to make attendant changes in its corporate culture, the Times will inevitably lose stature."

Dancy told Journal-isms Thursday by email, "When I joined the Times almost seven years ago, my mandate was to create and develop a diversity and inclusion program for the entire New York Times Company. [Chairman] Arthur [Sulzberger Jr.] and the Times leadership gave me every opportunity and platform to do so and I am happy to say that I am leaving a legacy that serves as a model to others in many ways. It truly is with mixed emotions that I've decided that the time is right for me to explore new opportunities."

She continued, "As you know, we were the first and perhaps still the only [newspaper] with employee affinity groups," which were instituted at Time Inc. in 1998 and nearly 30 years ago at NBCUniversal and are still in existence.

"We've built on them since inception, growing from 5 to 8 during my tenure. They are active internally and externally, raising awareness around diversity, partnering with minority professional organizations to support recruiting, as well as providing development opportunities for their members. The affinity groups also provide volunteer opportunities for employees who wish to serve the community by working with local non-profits.

"In our newsroom and on the business side we have diversity councils that focuses on key issues and develops strategies with New York Times leadership.

"Why now? The Times has reduced its business units and has refocused its operation to a smaller, and more singularly directed company. I feel that while The Times's diversity and inclusion program will continue, my job has changed as the program has also been refocused. I love what I do and want to continue to do that in an organization whose needs are focused in that direction."

The Times Co. "has been offloading holdings like and The Boston Globe in order to focus on its core brand: The New York Times and the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald Tribune)," as Politico has reported.

"The Redemption of Ham," a 19th century painting by Modesto Brocos, portrays a d

Where's Explanation of Why We Don't All Look the Same?

"Chinese-American TV personality Julie Chen reveals she had plastic surgery to make her eyes look less 'Asian' to advance her career," Maureen Pao reported Friday for NPR. "Korean women are getting surgeries for permanent smiles. In Venezuela, breast augmentation is so widespread, it's a popular coming-of-age gift for quinceañera, or 15th-birthday celebrations.

"What century are we in, anyway? Around the world, women continue to go to extreme measures in pursuit of 'beauty.'

"That women subject themselves to these complicated and bizarre, not to mention dangerous, procedures got me thinking about these notions of physical beauty — and who gets to define them. And what struck me is the irony that what's considered 'beautiful' or desirable in one culture is often the exact opposite in another.

"Take skin color, for instance. In the West, women expose their skin to harmful radiation and buy self-tanning products in pursuit of skin that's 'sun-kissed' and glowing."

Pao also wrote, "And just as the tanning industry caters to Western ideas of beauty, there's a booming business analogue in the rest of the world. In India alone, sales of skin-whitening creams are . Mostly they are modern-day snake oils; but in some cases, toxic products have led to serious, long-term damage and even death.

"This prize of 'white skin' is directly related to social status and hierarchies — and the legacy of slavery — around the world. . . ."

What's missing in such pieces are explanations of why all the world's people weren't intended to have the same features, given varying climates and geography, and the history of and reasons why people value one standard of beauty over another.

"Digital Divide" Greater Between Whites, Hispanics

The "digital divide" between whites and African Americans has been eliminated, but not the divide between whites and Hispanics, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Reporting this week on the percentage of adults 18 and over who do not use the Internet or email, the center found the figure to be 14 percent among non-Hispanic whites, 15 percent among non-Hispanic blacks and 24 percent among English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics.


  • "34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.

  • "32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.

  • "19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.

  • "7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet."

The findings were based on data from telephone interviews conducted  from April 17 to May 19 among 2,252 adults ages 18 and older. The sample included 1,571 whites, 252 blacks and 249 Hispanics.

For Correspondents, Kenya Massacre Was Close to Home

"Covering Westgate was challenging for everyone, including foreign correspondents with years of war coverage experience," Tom Rhodes wrote Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists, referring to the bloody assault that left a reported [72] dead in the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

" 'Over the past two decades, I have found myself in numerous war zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. I survived bombing in Baghdad, mortar attacks and street battles in Liberia, Libya and Yemen,' Washington Post East Africa Bureau Chief Sudarsan Raghavan wrote in a blog.

" 'But what unfolded Saturday felt markedly different. The war on terrorism had hit uncomfortably close to home [. . .] the interviews with victims felt more personal than other tragedies I have covered.'

"Local and foreign photographers alike, such as Nation's William Oeri and New York Times' Tyler Hicks, have risked life and limb venturing inside the shopping centre to cover the three day tragedy. 'I had a clear view in there,' recalled Hicks in a blog after taking incredible shots of the tragedy, 'I could see that there were multiple bodies lying dead in the mall, some lying together just next to where they were having lunch at a café. It seemed everywhere you turned there was another body.'

"Journalists with Somali backgrounds are particularly affected by Saturday's raid. Senior Editor for Radio Bar Kulan, Abdirahman Hussein, lost a friend, a Somali national named Yasin Hersi, who worked for a local non-governmental organization, he told me. Hussein had covered events at Westgate Mall until Al-Shabaab announced responsibility for the attack.

" 'That's when more fear came to the Somali community here in Nairobi,' he said. The UN-backed Somali news station Bar Kulan reduced staffing at the station as a precaution, Hussein said, fearing reprisal attacks against Somalis by an angry Kenyan public. The predominantly Somali Eastleigh region of Nairobi is gradually becoming a ghost town, he added. Residents are locking themselves indoors, fearing retribution from citizens and police . . ."

NAJA Calls for Newsroom Discussion of Team Names

The Native American Journalists Association, which has long opposed the use of Indian names as mascots, said of the Washington Redskins NFL team, "The conversations about the overtly [racist] term and the history and controversy that surround it should take place in all newsrooms. NAJA recommends more editors and writers to be leaders in reexamining their editorial policies regarding what is an overtly racist and dated word.

"It remains clear to NAJA that the highest ethical standards of journalism call for limiting the most egregious mascot names and images. Like the Washington football team name, the Cleveland Indians' caricature also reveals the deep level of institutionalized racism that remains within sports. . . ."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Desiree Dancy was a true friend to minority journalism groups

Desiree Dancy may have been the chief diversity officer at The New York Times Co., but she was also a true friend and ally to those advocating for greater newsroom diversity and inclusion. She not only attended our minority journalism association conventions and knew many of us by name, she also had the ear of influential top executives at The New York Times, including Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. With her support, the Times provided financial support for UNITY convention events, recruited at our career fairs, and offered top executives as speakers for our workshops and programs. We appreciate her deep commitment and wish her tremendous success in her future endeavors.

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